Take a drink that mixed purposely with caffeine AND alcohol and what do you have? A stimulant and a depressant  don’t always go together. Now in argueable small doses, like in a Jager Bomb or a Vodka Red Bull you get a decent tasting drink, but when you mix the two in much higher doses you get a cocktail that is destined to lead to nothing but trouble.

Enter into the conversation – Four Loko.

If you haven’t heard all of the controversy lately surrounding the college students up in Washington State, here’s  a summary:

Nine college students in Washington State who were recently hospitalized from drinking too much of the high-alcohol caffeinated drink Four Loko.

From a report filed by the New York Daily News, about fifty Central Washington University students and friends gathered at a party in Roslyn, Wash., where students were guzzling the beverage, nicknamed “blackout in a can.” Many of the partygoers were underage.

Cops responded to a call of a possible overdose victim in a car in a supermarket parking lot, according to KOMO News Seattle. The woman was unconscious when the officers arrived and was rushed to the hospital.

“Everything was going fine, the music was playing, people were having fun — and then all of a sudden all the girls were puking everywhere,” Central Washington freshman Katelynn Allen told KOMO. “Girls were outside on their backs.”

Police and officials had originally thought the girls were given the date rape drug, but toxicology reports confirmed that the students did not ingest any drugs.

University officials said that the students’ blood-alcohol content ranged from 0.12 to 0.35. The legal blood-alcohol content limit to drive is 0.08. A measurement over 0.30 can be fatal.

Now here’s the frightening thing – A tall can of Four Loko holds 23.5 ounces, with an alcohol content of 12%. Drinking one can is comparable to drinking five to six beers and several shots of espresso. At an average cost of $2.50 per can, this drink does seem to live up to it’s nickname “blackout in a can.”

This month, Ramapo College in Mahwah, N.J., banned the drink from campus after 23 students were hospitalized with alcohol poisoning.

Now, on the other side of the story is the drink’s manufacturer, Phusion Projects. Phusion Projects is responding back to these allegations with a statement on their website where they state that, “…Four Loko can hardly be blamed as the sole culprit for a drunken party at a Washington state university that sickened over 50 students…”

The proof is in the police reports, the company says.

“While our product is mentioned only twice in the 44-page police report, hard liquor, vodka, rum or other alcohol is mentioned at least 19 times; beer is mentioned at least 3 times; and illegal drugs or roofies are mentioned at least 14 times,” according to a company statement posted Tuesday.

Phusion Projects insists that that their drink is no more unsafe than any other alcoholic beverage.

“Consuming caffeine and alcohol together has been done safely for years,” Phusion Projects said in a statement on their web site. “Our products contain less alcohol than an average rum and cola, less alcohol and caffeine than an average Red Bull and vodka, and are comparable to having coffee after a meal with a couple glasses of wine.”

Editorial Opinion: I find it difficult to believe that statement judging by drink volume (23.5 ounces vs. what’s in a typical 3 – 5 ounce cocktail glass). No, I haven’t personally tried Four Loko, and never plan to.

Phusion Projects said in a statement that the beverage is labeled specifically warning of its alcoholic content and the need for the purchaser to be over 21.

“Making college campuses safe and healthy environments for learning is a goal we share with administrators – even those who have chosen to ban our products.”

What do you think about this story folks? There’s no way these drinks will ever be taken off the shelves – we’re not reverting back to prohibition, but I’m concerned about the problems this could lead to.

Your thoughts.

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